Real-world program evaluation of integrated behavioral health care: Improving scientific rigor

Fam Syst Health. 2017 Jun;35(2):114-124. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000253.


Introduction: Designing systematic, scientifically rigorous program evaluations (PE) is 1 way to contribute to the significant need to build best practices and a stronger evidence base for integrated behavioral health care. However, there are many potential pitfalls when conducting PE in real-world settings, and many clinicians and administrators may be hesitant to engage in PE due to lack of training or resources. Rigorous PE can be achieved feasibly and efficiently.

Method: This article discusses common challenges that arise when conducting PE in integrated behavioral health care settings and illustrates ways to increase the methodological quality of PE efforts using lessons learned from 2 real-world case examples. The first example included a PE of a training program for brief alcohol interventions, and the second example included a PE of a depression medication monitoring service.

Results/discussion: The case examples demonstrate the need for strategic planning beforehand, including the use of a conceptual framework as well as appropriate study designs/methodology, measurement, and the need for consistency to achieve a well-designed PE. Using the recommendations within this article, it is hoped that the quality of PEs can be improved resulting in more generalizable data that can be used to inform organizations and policymakers to improve health care delivery. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine / methods*
  • Behavioral Medicine / standards
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / standards*